Sulayem set for big race
Dubai, June 24, 2007
Arab rally icon Mohammed Ben Sulayem will take part in
Goodwood Festival of Speed in England this weekend.
The three-day Festival of Speed is a unique event bringing together the greatest competition cars and star drivers from all eras.
The 14-times FIA Middle East rally champion has accepted a special invitation from the Earl of March, organiser of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, to attend the event.
“I’m very grateful to the Earl for the invitation to take part in this incredible motor sport festival for the first time,” said Sulayem, who has not driven competitively since winning the Dubai International Rally for the 15th time in 2002," Sulayem said.
“The entry list for the Goodwood Festival of Speed always reads like a 'Who’s Who' of motor sport stars and personalities, and it’s stronger than ever this year. I’m going to be meeting up with a lot of friends from Formula One and the WRC, as well as some of the real legends of motor sport for the first time. It’s a great thrill,” he added.
Sulayem, who is the president of the Emirates Automobile and Touring Club, goes back into action in a big line-up of racing and rallying legends and celebrities for an event recognised as the world’s biggest celebration of motor sport history.
Competing in the Goodwood Forest Rally Stage in a Ford Focus World Rally Car, Sulayem will face formidable opposition from former World Rally Champions Colin McRae and Petter Solberg.
Also competing against him in the contemporary WRC class will be Finnish former WRC star Markko Martin and ex-British rally champion Malcolm Wilson, whose M-Sport organisation prepared the Ford Focus WRC Sulayem drove to the last four of his 14 Middle East titles.
This year’s entry list includes former F1 world champions Sir Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Riccardo Patrese and Damon Hill, along with current stars Ralf Schumacher, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, who all compete in the famous Goodwood hillclimb.
Other big names include five times Le Mans winner Derek Bell, former World Rally Champions Stig Blomqvist, Carlos Sainz and Bjőrn Waldegård, ex World Superbike champions Troy Corser and Carl Fogarty, and actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson of “Mr Bean” and “Blackadder” fame.
The festival’s origins can be traced back to a private hillclimb held at his Goodwood estate in 1936 by the 9th Duke of Richmond, who in 1948 opened the Goodwood Motor Circuit.
Those early events inspired his grandson, the present Earl of March, to bring motor sport back to Goodwood, resulting in the first Festival of Speed held in 1993.
The Festival is now a key event in the motor sport social calendar. Adding to the spectacle of the hillclimb is a 2.5-kilometre loose-surface rally stage. This will feature around 30 cars from the history of rallying, including Sulayem’s Ford Focus WRC. TradeArabia News Service